Never discount the power of being in the right place at the right time
When I started out I was 14 DJing at parties. I’d charge R200 per gig, and pay my dad R100 to ‘rent’ his sound system and pay back equipment that he’d bought for me. I had R100 left to buy music.
Even then, everything I earned went back into the business. As I grew older, I started going to clubs, always paying attention to the latest acts and introducing myself to managers and club owners.
My big break came because I was at a big club in Midrand when the DJ didn’t pitch. I had all my gear in my car (I always did), and the manager asked if I could fill in. After that, I finally started securing gigs myself, and the rest is history.
I set up my business in 2005
I’ll only be an in-demand DJ for so long, and I need to think about what comes next. Euphonik Productions is therefore about much more than just the artist.
I pay myself a salary, and everything goes through the business, from endorsements to albums, gigs and even events. I understand how events should work and what goes into them, so this is a big area that the business focuses on, and has nothing to do with me as an artist.
It also means we have multiple revenue streams, as I could be playing in one venue, but an event is taking place simultaneously with artists who we’ve hired. I’m leveraging off my brand now to build a sustainable business for the future.
I’m all about seizing the moment
I believe you need to be constantly staying on top of trends. One of the things I noticed for example, was that whenever we did under-18 parties, everyone was wearing Superga footwear.
I approached the brand and pitched an idea about co-branded sneakers. My philosophy is to catch them while they’re young, and they’ll support you later. I’m also a big believer in brands leveraging off each other. If there’s a synergy, find it and make it work for you and the consumer.
I like to watch other industries and find solutions that aren’t the norm in my own
For example, big brands buy billboards at the airport, so why don’t we? As DJs, we’re always waiting for someone else to promote us, but we never promote ourselves.
I’ve purchased billboard space at the airport out of my own pocket to build personal brand awareness. The ROI is hard to track, but I’m determined to do everything I can to grow my image.
We haven’t always gotten everything right
I’ve lost R800 000 on events in the past because we were still learning and we made mistakes. The trick is to take those losses, learn the mistakes, and never do them again.
I’ve also realised how important it is to ask questions. You can’t make mistakes if they’ve happened before and you’ve asked the right people
You don’t always get things right the first time
For example, based on the popularity of skopas (popcorn snacks sold on the side of the road), I launched Yank Snacks with a partner. We produce high-quality skopas called disco pops and launched them at schools.
Everyone liked the taste of the product, but we’d essentially taken a cheap product and made it a premium offering with a price tag to match. It didn’t work. We’ve realised we need to take a popular snack and create a new market, not try and sell a more expensive version to an existing market.
Always test your offering before you invest too much in it
On the other hand, I’ve been selling a T-shirt range through Facebook for two years and it’s doing well. It was a great low-cost way of testing the concept, and now we’ve launched a store in Braamfontein.
Related: The Anatomy of John Vlismas
My mantra is love what you do and do what you love
It might sound like a cliché, but I’ve turned down deals and offers that were only about the money. If your gut says no and you do it anyway, it’s hard to get over the experience, but if your gut says yes and it was a mistake, I can reconcile with the fact that that was clearly a lesson I was meant to learn.
Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch
Keep your finger on the pulse of the start-up space by using our comprehensive list of SA small business to watch.
Entrepreneurship in South Africa is at an all-time high. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by 4.1% to 11% in 2017/2018. This means numerous new, exciting and promising small businesses are launching and growing.
To ensure you know who the innovative trailblazers are in the start-up and small business space, here are 50 of South Africa’s top establishing companies to watch, in no particular order:
- Livestock Wealth
- The Lazy Makoti
- Mimi Women
- AfriTorch Digital
- Akili Labs
- Native Décor
- Quality Solutions
- EM Guidance
- Kahvé Road
- HSE Matters
- VA Virtual Assistant
- Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
- BioTech Africa
- Brand LAIKI
- Plus Fab
- Lenoma Legal
- Benji + Moon
- Brett Naicker Wines
- Legal Legends
- The Power Woman Project
- Aviro Health
- AnaStellar Brands
- Data Innovator
- Oolala Collection Club
- Empty Trips
- Vula Mobile
- The Katy Valentine Collection
- Pimp my Book
- ART Technologies and ART Call Management
- The Sun Exchange
How 28-Year Old Entrepreneur Adam Fine Is Leveraging The Global Phenomenon Of Five-A-Side Football
Adam Fine of Fives Futbol discusses how he leverage a global phenomenon and the value of strategic partnerships in business.
- Player: Adam Fine
- Company: Fives Futbol
- Est: 2011
- Visit: www.fivesfutbol.co.za
Nothing about Adam Fine is by-the-book. The 28-year-old entrepreneur describes himself as a slightly big child. He’s the CEO of one of the most exciting start-ups in South Africa, having leveraged the global phenomenon of five-a-side football to start a business that has grown almost as fast as the game itself. Not bad for a venture that was launched with the princely sum of R85 000 — Fine’s life savings at the time.
He started it in 2011, with a strong focus on corporate social investment and making a positive social impact. It was by forming strategic partnerships that Adam really managed to grow Fives Futbol. He’s opened pitches in prime locations that serve both the school and corporate markets, while still being accessible for social impact interventions in local communities.
Pivoting at the right time is key to growth
In the last 18 months, Fives Futbol has trebled in size, and achieved some amazing milestones — it now employs 50 full-time staff, and 80 part-timers. It’s one of the factors that drives Adam, as many of his employees support up to eight family members. It’s now also represented in four provinces and 15 locations around the country. By September, there will be 18.
Quick growth means you have to be able to pivot quickly when things do not go according to plan, and mostly they don’t, Adam says. “If things are not working you should be able to ‘pivot’, to shift your focus. And do it fast. It’s not a sign that things have gone wrong by any means, on the contrary, it means you have the insight to recognise that there is a problem with the assumptions on which you have built your business model. The decision to pivot is a big one, and not something to be taken lightly. It requires you to take a hard look at your reallocation of resources, and to do it with an open mind.”
In Adam’s case, construction delays, councils taking their time to approve, or having to put money into rolling out sites as opposed to marketing, means the promotion of a new site will slow down, for example, because the business does not yet have a large marketing budget.
“When we run behind on the construction of a new site, R40 000 can suddenly become R100 000 — but here’s the thing: If a deal comes along that will probably harm your business in the short-term but enable significant long-term growth, sometimes you have to juggle what you have so you can make it work.”
The Lesson: Choose your investors carefully
Fine says he’s lucky to have a solid group of investors that he has cultivated over six years. “Their input is invaluable. They’ll say, ‘slow down’ or ‘have you thought of this?’, ‘have you factored in that?’ The ability to develop a good relationship with our investors has had a significant impact on the success of the company. Over and above money, they provide wisdom, guidance and connections.”
His relationship with his investors is key. While many entrepreneurs make it just about the money, Adam understood something else — he has a pretty cool brand with a great cause behind it. So, while investors are asked for money all the time, he was able to offer something more than just a business idea — alignment. He generated enthusiasm for the ‘why,’ behind the business. Like most of us, it makes investors happy to know that they are helping to make a positive difference.
And while it’s easy to bandy about the word ‘partnership’, Adam has worked hard to make that a reality. He set out to find like-minded people who are passionate about the business and the cause, which is why they are able to serve as great resources for advice and insight.
Related: Richard Branson’s ABCs Of Business
“The best way to ensure that you and your investors have a valuable and lengthy partnership is to make sure that everyone is aligned on the vision.”
This includes Adam’s team. The internal culture of an organisation is vital to its strength and growth. “Without our team we don’t have a business for investors to support — our people are critical to our success. They’re the executors of the vision at the end of the day.”
The Lesson: The value of strategic partnerships
Much of the growth of Fives Futbol has been fuelled by finding the right sponsorship partners in key industries. To overcome the challenge of a limited marketing budget, Adam has secured sponsorships with big brands like Adidas, Total Sports, Debonairs, and Klipdrift, allowing Fives Futbol to use their access to communities as a marketing platform to derive income as well as scale. And it works both ways.
“Because we have a national footprint and a team of people, we run activations for our partners, which also provides us with an ancillary revenue stream,” he says. “Knowing how to join forces with other businesses has been a key factor in making the business successful. Our strategic partners have enabled the business to leverage their brand to give us more exposure. When it works well, a strategic partnership can be just what you need to speed up the growth of your business.”
Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses
The advent and advancement of the online marketplace has led these entrepreneurs to successfully build and grow their ecommerce empires.
South Africa’s ecommerce market is worth R10 billion per year. By 2021, the number of online shoppers is expected to have reached 24.79 million.
“Our recent research on SA shows people are browsing three hours or more on their mobile phones and 25% shop online. They trust local brands,” says Geraldine Mitchley, Visa senior director for digital solutions in sub-Sahara Africa.
These entrepreneurs have cashed in on ecommerce and launched successful online stores that have either established their dominance in the market, or are taking the e-tailing world by storm.
Here’s how these 15 ecommerce capitalists are making money using the Internet:
Start-up Industry Specific2 months ago
How Do I Start A Transport Or Logistics Business?
Snapshots9 years ago
Habari Media: Adrian Hewlett
Snapshots2 months ago
27 Of The Richest People In South Africa
Types of Businesses to Start2 months ago
11 Uniquely South African Business Ideas
Support for Women Entrepreneurs2 months ago
10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family
Entrepreneur Profiles2 months ago
10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing
Types of Businesses to Start2 months ago
10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!
Lessons Learnt2 months ago
6 Of The Most Profitable Small Businesses In South Africa